If you judge running backs by their ability to rack up a huge amount of rushing yards as a workhouse throughout the season, Marion Grice’s 2012 rushing total of 679 yards might not blow you away. Solid, and much more than solid if you pay attention to his 6.6 yards per carry average, but nothing like Arizona running back Ka’Deem Carey’s 1929 yards from that same year. So why is Grice, who has rushed for 395 yards so far in 2013, talked about like such a star?
He scores touchdowns. Lots of them. Oh, and he’s an outstanding pass-catcher. Grice ran for 11 touchdowns while catching 41 passes for 425 yards and an additional eight scores. Put it all together and you have 1,104 combined yards and 19 total touchdowns. He served as the sort of dynamic chess piece that offensive coordinators love for the way they keep opposing defenses honest and off-guard.
In 2013 he has been even better. Already his 395 rushing yards are accompanied by 10 rushing scores, while his 29 catches, 265 receiving yards, and five receiving touchdowns are already on pace to blow away his totals from last year.
Washington will certainly be planning for the threat posed by Grice, as well as his fellow pass-catching running back D.J. Foster, who has nabbed 38 balls for 334 yards and a score while rushing the ball more rarely. Outside of emerging star wide receiver Jaelon Strong, quarterback Taylor Kelly throws to those two halfbacks more often than any of his other targets.
Coach Wilcox possesses a wealth of talent at linebacker and safety, so it’s logical to think that one of Arizona State’s greatest advantages may be less of an edge on Saturday. However, Grice has managed to put together a productive performance each and every week of this season. He has not gone a single game without at least one touchdown, with the loss to Notre Dame being his only contest without multiple scores.
The Husky defense will need to be disciplined in their approach towards Grice. If they lose track of him leaking out of the backfield amidst the fray even just once, history has shown that he’ll likely find his way into the end zone.